Reducing text anxiety in third graders
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The purpose of this study was to determine if teaching test-taking strategies to third graders can decrease test anxiety. A review of the literature indicates that test anxiety is a debilitating condition that affects students at all ages. It is a result of test-taking pressures and high expectations placed upon students by themselves, peers, teachers, and parents. By using a cognitive behavior modification program, students can be taught to better cope with test anxiety by utilizing strategies such as positive statements to alter students’ thoughts about test taking, visualization of themselves doing well that will reflect in the outcome, and relaxation techniques such as taking slow deep breaths and relaxing body and muscles to help reduce anxiety. This study was conducted with 39 third graders from a suburban school. Students were randomly split into two different treatment groups and received a story-based cognitive behavior modification intervention at varying times. The students’ comfort level was assessed using an adapted version of the Test Comfort Index developed by Hamisch, Hill, and Fyans (1980) and responses to open-ended questions. This study indicated that third graders can use anxiety-reducing strategies to increase positive feelings about test taking and increase their comfort level when they take tests. Individual and group differences in students’ use of strategies to alleviate test anxiety are discussed.